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The Sciences of Homosexuality in Early Modern Europe [Paperback]

Kenneth Borris , George Rousseau

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Book Description

Dec 19 2007 0415446929 978-0415446921 1

The Sciences of Homosexuality in Early Modern Europe investigates early modern scientific accounts of same-sex desires and the shapes they assumed in everyday life. It explores the significance of those representations and interpretations from around 1450 to 1750, long before the term homosexuality was coined and accrued its current range of cultural meanings.

This collection establishes that efforts to produce scientific explanations for same-sex desires and sexual behaviours are not a modern invention, but have long been characteristic of European thought. The sciences of antiquity had posited various types of same-sexual affinities rooted in singular natures. These concepts were renewed, elaborated, and reassessed from the late medieval scientific revival to the early Enlightenment. The deviance of such persons seemed outwardly inscribed upon their bodies, documented in treatises and case studies. It was attributed to diverse inborn causes such as distinctive anatomies or physiologies, and embryological, astrological, or temperamental factors.

This original book freshly illuminates many of the questions that are current today about the nature of homosexual activity and reveals how the early modern period and its scientific interpretations of same-sex relationships are fundamental to understanding the conceptual development of contemporary sexuality.


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About the Author

Kenneth Borris is Professor of English at McGill University and is a recipient of the MacCaffrey Award and a Canada Research Fellowship. His previous books are Same-Sex Desire in the English Renaissance (Routledge, 2004), Allegory and Epic in English Renaissance Literature: Heroic Form in Sidney, Spenser, and Milton (2001), Spenser’s Poetics of Prophecy (1991), and a co-edited collection, The Affectionate Shepherd: Celebrating Richard Barnfield (2001).

George Rousseau is Co-Director of the Centre for the History of Childhood at Oxford University. His previous publications include Nervous Acts: Essays on Literature, Culture and Sensibility (2004), Framing and Imagining Disease in Cultural History (2003) Pre- and Post-Modern Discourses: medical, scientific, anthropological (Manchester, 1991) and, with Roy Porter, Gout: The Patrician Malady (1998).

 


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